Integrated Supply Chain Technology: What Does It Mean?

The need to take a holistic and integrated perspective of your supply chain has always been important, but it’s even more critical today as customer expectations around cost, quality, and service become more demanding. Part of the challenge to achieving a holistic and integrated view is the fragmented technology landscape that many companies find themselves in.

What does it mean to have integrated supply chain technology? How do you achieve it? And what are the main benefits?

Those were the main questions I discussed with Jason Nurmi, Global Strategic Account Manager at BluJay Solutions, in a recent episode of Talking Logistics.

Integrated Supply Chain: A Single Do-It-All Solution?

I kicked off the conversation by asking Jason a simple question: Is this about getting to a single IT solution that does everything in supply chain management or about integrating multiple supply chain applications together or something different?

“What we’re really talking about here is the combination of technologies, services, and supply chain partners that get integrated holistically into an end-to-end solution,” said Nurmi. In other words, the concept of “integrated supply chain” goes well beyond the technology within your own four walls — it also involves the integration of trading partners and their technologies, processes, and services too.

The Old ERP vs. Best-of-Breed Debate

The conversation reminded me of the old ERP vs. Best-of-Breed debate. Back in 2003, for example, Larry Ellison, Oracle’s CEO at the time, emailed a colleague that “within the year every analyst will agree that best of breed is dead — except at dog shows.” He was referring to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) best of breeds, but the belief extended to other applications too. Fast forward to today and best of breeds are alive and well, with new startups entering the market every year as new supply chain and logistics challenges and opportunities continue to emerge.

“There was a push in the 90s through early 2000s where many companies didn’t have that backbone ERP system,” said Nurmi. “Now those companies, as they have matured and face global requirements, have started to look at how to overlay best-of-breed solutions over their [ERP] backbone to achieve consistency of data and visibility, and how to incorporate trading partners because they’re an integral part of the supply chain as well.”

The perspective is no longer about looking at your company in isolation “but understanding how your suppliers impact your supply chain velocity, how your customers impact your distribution network, and how your other trading partners, like third-party logistics providers and carriers, help facilitate your inbound and outbound supply chain processes,” added Nurmi.

Cloud applications, web services, and control towers are all playing a critical role in enabling this integrated supply chain approach. I encourage you to watch the rest of my conversation with Jason where we discuss those topics and more. Then post a question or a comment and keep the conversation going!